What game has proximity voice chat?

Proximity voice chat refers to a feature in multiplayer video games that allows players to speak to and hear each other through their in-game avatars based on proximity in the game world. When players’ avatars are near each other, they can talk in real-time using their microphones, with the audio being localized in the game rather than transmitted to all players at once. This creates an immersive experience where conversations occur organically as players interact, similar to how dialogue works in the real world.

Proximity voice chat has become an increasingly popular feature in multiplayer games over the past decade. It enables a new dimension of tactical teamwork and player interactions not possible with traditional text or server-wide chat. The ability to actually speak to other players in real-time adds to the realism, social dynamics, and sense of “being there” in the game world. While proximity chat introduces some moderation challenges, overall it represents an exciting evolution in social presence and immersion for multiplayer gaming.

History of Proximity Voice Chat

Proximity voice chat first appeared in video games in the 1990s. According to a Reddit thread, one of the first games to introduce this feature was the 1994 game Marathon developed by Bungie, which allowed players in multiplayer to hear each other based on their proximity in the game world.

Over the next decade, a few other games experimented with proximity voice chat to varying degrees of success. Some early examples include the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Ultima Online in 1997, the team-based first-person shooter Unreal Tournament in 1999, and the squad-based military game Rainbow Six in 1998.

However, proximity voice chat did not become widespread or see heavy usage until the 2000s. genres like survival games and Battle Royale games helped popularize proximity chat and make it a more expected feature in multiplayer games.

Technical Aspects

Proximity chat works by using spatialized audio and attenuation to simulate distance between players. As players move closer together in a virtual space, their voice chat volume increases, and as they move further apart the volume decreases. This creates the effect of hearing nearby players louder and clearer, while distant players sound faint and far away.

The key technologies that enable proximity chat are:

  • Spatialized audio: Audio positioning technology that simulates the physical properties of sound and how it travels in space. This allows voice chat to properly attenuate and pan audio based on each player’s position and orientation in the virtual world.
  • Attenuation: The drop-off in volume and clarity of a sound source as the listener moves further away. Voice chat volume is attenuated based on the distance between players.
  • Voice activation detection: The game client detects when a player is speaking into their mic and relays their voice data to other nearby players. This avoids broadcasting silence and reduces network traffic.
  • Low latency networking: Minimizing audio delay is critical for natural conversations in real-time. Games use high quality audio codecs and optimized networking to keep proximity chat responsive.

According to How does proximity chat work?, combining these technologies with in-game player positions and collider volumes allows developers to create believable proximity chat. The result is an immersive social experience not possible over traditional chat platforms.

Popular Genres Using It

Proximity voice chat is most commonly found in multiplayer survival, horror, and battle royale games where communication and coordination between players is crucial. According to Gamerant, some of the most popular game genres using proximity chat include:

  • Survival games like Rust and Ark: Survival Evolved where players must gather resources and build shelters together while avoiding environmental hazards and enemy players.
  • Horror games like Phasmophobia where players investigate paranormal activity and must communicate clearly to identify ghosts.
  • Battle royale shooters like Fortnite and PUBG where squad communication is key for survival and victory.
  • Mil-sim shooters like Squad and Hell Let Loose that aim to provide an authentic combat communications experience between squad members.

The common thread is that these competitive, multiplayer-focused genres benefit greatly from the improved coordination, teamwork, and immersive experience enabled by proximity voice chat.

Notable Examples

Some popular games that implement proximity chat well include PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) on PC, Rust, Sea of Thieves, and Fortnite Battle Royale. PUBG on PC allows players within a certain distance to hear each other via voice chat, enabling more tactical gameplay and unpredictable player interactions. Rust also utilizes proximity voice chat to encourage emergent gameplay between players, allowing for cooperation, conflicts, and unique stories to organically unfold. Sea of Thieves and Fortnite take a lighter approach with proximity chat, enabling humorous player-to-player interactions in their more casual environments.

Overall, well-implemented proximity chat mechanics deepen multiplayer immersion, lead to unexpected social dynamics between players, and produce shareable emergent stories arising naturally from gameplay. These notable examples demonstrate how proximity chat, when thoughtfully designed around a game’s premise, can meaningfully enhance the player experience.

Implementation Challenges

Implementing effective proximity voice chat in games comes with various technical and design challenges that developers must address. One major issue is managing audio quality and latency, especially for online multiplayer games. The audio stream must transmit clearly within the player’s vicinity while avoiding delays that could break immersion.

Developers also face challenges in setting the proximity range and attenuation curve. If the range is too short, players may not hear others nearby. But if it’s too far, the world could become noisy and chaotic. According to one Reddit user, “Push-to-talk proximity chat could alleviate most of the problems that proximity voice would bring to an open-world game. It wouldn’t allow people to spam loud noises or music.”

There are also potential toxicity concerns that developers must grapple with when implementing open mic systems. Giving players free rein to verbally harass others could seriously degrade gameplay experiences. As one Steam user noted, “You don’t want this game turning into Holdfast. Look at hell let loose. Great implementation.” Moderation and reporting tools may be necessary to maintain positive community norms.

On Xbox, PS4, and mobile platforms, hardware and bandwidth limitations pose additional challenges. Game studios must optimize to transmit clear voice streams without degrading graphical performance on constrained platforms and networks.

Player Interactions

One of the biggest benefits of proximity voice chat is the emergent gameplay experiences it enables through player interactions. As players hear and talk to each other nearby in real time, spontaneous and unique social dynamics can emerge.

Some players report amazing social interactions and “YouTube moments”, while others highlight increased toxicity and harassment. Overall, the extremely close proximity required for voice chat communication seems to facilitate more authentic interactions, though of varying levels of quality.

The interpersonal nature of proximity chat makes gameplay much more dynamic. Hearing other teams communicating produces tension and opportunities for mind games. Teams can choose to engage or avoid others. Some even negotiate temporary truces when facing a common threat. This leads to entirely new social dynamics unique to the capabilities of proximity chat systems.

Toxicity Concerns

Proximity voice chat enables players to talk to each other via open microphones without revealing their real identities. While this leads to more immersive gameplay, it also raises concerns about potential toxicity. Some players take advantage of anonymity to abuse or harass others through disruptive behavior over voice chat. This is a notable issue that developers must address.

For example, Call of Duty has faced toxicity problems through unmoderated voice chat. However, Activision has been working to curb this behavior through initiatives like the Anti-Toxicity Progress Report. They use machine learning models to detect disruptive voice activity and restrict chat privileges for offending players. Since the launch of Modern Warfare II, over 1 million players have faced voice chat restrictions.

The anonymity of proximity chat also worries Dead by Daylight players. As noted in a Reddit discussion, some feel it could lead to more toxicity than the endgame chat. Developers must find solutions to curb harassment while retaining the benefits of open communication.

Future Possibilities

Proximity voice chat has the potential to evolve in exciting new ways as technology advances. One possibility is integrating proximity voice with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) gaming. As these immersive technologies become more prevalent, proximity voice chat could help enhance the sense of realism and social presence in virtual worlds. Players with AR/VR headsets could speak naturally to those around them in-game, just as they would in real life.

Advancements in 3D audio and spatial sound could also make proximity voice communication more lifelike and immersive. As sound engines improve, developers may be able to more accurately simulate the way voices are softened, muffled or echo based on in-game surroundings and distance between players. This could contribute to more believable player interactions.

Proximity voice chat may also benefit from machine learning and AI. Systems could be trained to filter out abusive language, identify speakers, and even generate appropriate automatic responses. This could help curb toxicity while enabling more seamless communication.

New proximity voice features could also emerge, like sound radars to visually detect speaking players or built-in language translation. As technology removes traditional barriers, proximity chat has the potential to become a more natural and useful part of social gameplay.

However, some speculate proximity voice chat may diminish if parties and private chat channels remain popular. Still, proximity features have come a long way and will likely continue advancing alongside other gaming innovations.


In conclusion, proximity voice chat is a unique feature in multiplayer games that creates immersive player interactions and facilitates teamwork and communication. Its primary value is in enhancing the social experience and bringing new dynamics to gameplay. Implementation requires overcoming toxicity concerns through moderation tools and reporting systems. When thoughtfully integrated, proximity chat deepens multiplayer engagement across various genres from shooters to survival games. As games continue innovating social systems, proximity voice promises to enable more meaningful player connections and transform how we play together.

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